Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Canuck glad to go No. 1,198 in MLB draft

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AFTER three days and 39 rounds, Chris Thibideau had given up hope that he would hear his name called in the 40-round Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

He had been watching the draft on TV with some friends in a dormitory room Saturday at the Vauxhall Academy of Baseball. Resigned to the fact it didn't look good for him and a few teammates, Thibideau got up off the couch and planned to go get some dinner.

Instead his buddies swarmed him in celebration.

"As soon as I stood up my name got called and then the boys just jumped on me," Thibideau said Monday from Vauxhall, Alta. "I was like, 'No way.' Because I didn't even hear my name. I just saw their reaction and everything."

The San Diego Padres used their final pick of the 40-round draft to take the Canadian shortstop from Dartmouth, N.S. Thibideau was selected at No. 1,198 overall -- just 18 picks from the bottom.

The Padres called about an hour after the selection was made to congratulate him and said they'd be back in touch soon.

"I was just so overwhelmed as soon as my name was called," he said. "I guess the (phone) call just kind of ensured that I was drafted, that it wasn't an (error)."

Thibideau is finishing off his school year while he continues training with teammates. He plans to return home for the summer and is taking a wait-and-see approach for the fall.

The Padres have yet to make him an offer.

"I got drafted really late so I'm not expecting a lot," he said.

Thibideau said he has committed to Central Michigan in Mount Pleasant, Mich., and Midland College in Midland, Tex.

"It's either going to be college or hopefully pro ball if I get what I want."

Standing five foot 11 and weighing 175 pounds, Thibideau broke Vauxhall's all-time record this year with a .485 batting average. The 18-year-old has played second base since joining the Canadian junior team last fall.

He was picked up by the national side in November and has made trips to Florida and the Dominican Republic with the squad.

Thibideau said he tries to model his game after New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.

"He's been my role model since I was a little kid," he said.

Left-handed pitcher Rob Zastryzny of Edmonton was the first Canadian selected in this year's draft. The Chicago Cubs picked him at No. 41 last Thursday.

The Toronto Blue Jays picked a pair of Canadians: right-hander Sean Ratcliffe of Ajax, Ont., in the 18th round (No. 535) and catcher Mike Reeves of Peterborough, Ont., in the 21st round (No. 625).

In all, 19 Canadians were picked before Thibideau's name was finally selected.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 11, 2013 C4

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